(HealthDay News) – The likelihood of diabetes in young adulthood is increased for those who are obese as adolescents and those with persistent obesity, compared to those with adult-onset obesity, according to a study published in the April issue of Diabetes Care.

Natalie S. The, PhD, from Furman University in Greenville, SC, and colleagues followed a cohort of 10,481 individuals, aged 12–21 years, from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health over two visits at age 18–27 years and 24–33 years. The correlations of obesity timing and obesity duration over time with diabetes were assessed.

The researchers found that 4.4% of 24- to 33-year-old participants had diabetes, and about half were undiagnosed. The prevalence of diabetes was higher among blacks and Hispanics than among whites. Even after accounting for current body mass index, waist circumference, and age at menarche, women who became obese before age 16 were significantly more likely to have diabetes, compared with those who became obese at or after age 18 (odds ratio [OR], 2.77) in multivariate analyses. For men and women, persistent obesity correlated with increased odds of diabetes (OR, 2.27 and 2.08).

“We found that adolescent obesity (vs. adult onset) and persistent obesity from adolescence to young adulthood conferred the greatest likelihood of diabetes in young adulthood,” the authors write. “Our findings suggest that, in addition to current obesity, information about timing and duration of obesity are needed to fully understand and predict diabetes risk.”

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